I think my favorite core strength training exercises are those I do with any type of workout ball (ie: exercise ball, stability ball, or medicine ball). Of all the various forms of core strength exercises, I find that the simple movements using any type of exercise ball and body weight, or an exercise ball with weights are the most versatile and challenging to the entire body. I also find that this equipment almost always available at most public gyms and training facilities so knowing these exercises allows me to have a decent workout no matter where I am. And as I learn new and different movements my work outs will be completely unique, challenging, and fun!

Today we are going to discuss the basics of using a stability ball in your workout routine.

The simplest way to use a stability ball is by doing basic body weight movements that you can do at home or the gym.  This type of workout doesn’t involve any additional equipment and doesn’t require you to be an advanced athlete, it only requires a properly inflated ball and a wall, railing, or chair you can use in case you feel off balance or unstable.

Stability ball exercises usually incorporate all the various core abdominal muscles used to maintain neutral posture, and you should attempt to maintain neutral posture throughout any movement you perform.  Using just your own body weight and an exercise ball lets you create a challenging workout that will improve your balance, stability, and core strength as you improve your fitness level and move on to more advanced movements.

Once you’ve mastered body weight exercises using a ball, you can move on to more advanced movements – like those incorporating even more challenging positioning, use of light to heavy hand weights, or resistance tubing. These movements are more difficult not only because of the additional resistance provided by either weights or tubing, but also because generally you’ll also be placing an additional challenge on your core to maintain neutral posture.

When performing intermediate to advanced exercise ball movements, it’s very beneficial to use a mirror as a means of feedback, letting you know if you are maintaining the neutral position. The neutral position requires you to keep shoulders under the ears, maintain the natural curve of the spine, and a neutral pelvis. Most often, people tend to round out their upper back or rotate their pelvis back as they fatigue. Although moving into this position may help you complete the exercise, it can actually be detrimental to your body and can put you at risk for injury to either your back or shoulders. You’ll need a good eye when looking for yourself to “lose position”. Maintaining the proper position is actually one of the main purposes of using an exercise ball in place of a weight bench or exercise mat.

Stability ball exercises can range from very simple to extremely challenging and there is far more flexibility in terms of the types of exercises you can perform. While the more advanced exercises may seem like a fun place to start, if you’re just getting started, the simpler body weight exercises will give you a great “taste” of how to use the ball and maintain the correct positioning. This will ensure your safety as you progress towards more difficult and challenging exercises. If you enjoy the body weight exercises you learn and pass the test of maintaining neutral posture, you can easily move on to more advanced core strength exercises.